Posted Date: March 11, 2011

Author:  William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Issue Alert: 2011-2012 FAFSA Corrections to Transactions with Skipped Asset Fields and Resulting Reject 1

We have identified a correction issue in the Central Processing System (CPS) that causes Reject 1 (i.e., missing asset information on the FAFSA) to be incorrectly set in some cases. The error impacts applicants who answered “No” to the asset threshold screening question on the 2011-2012 FAFSA on the Web application and, therefore, were allowed to skip asset questions.

We will implement a change in the CPS on Friday, March 18, 2011, that will prevent additional student records from encountering this error going forward. While we do not have a specific workaround identified that will enable you to avoid the issue, this message provides schools with key details, background information, and next steps.

Description of the Issue

The error occurs when a correction is made to an 02 or higher transaction for an applicant who answered “No” to the asset threshold screening question on his or her FAFSA on the Web application. Corrections that are applied against the original application that was submitted without assets (i.e., SAR/ISIR transaction 01) are being processed correctly by the CPS with Reject 1 correctly suppressed (resulting in a transaction 02). However, corrections applied to transaction 02 or higher (resulting in transaction 03 or higher) may be subjected to the edits that trigger Reject 1, but the reject is not being suppressed as it should be. This error affects the different correction processes in different ways:

  • FAA Access to CPS Online Correction Entry - The FAA is required to provide asset data before being allowed to submit the correction.
  • Electronic Data Exchange (EDE) Corrections (batch process) - The resulting transaction contains Reject 1.
  • Paper SAR Corrections - The resulting transaction contains Reject 1.
  • System-Generated Transaction Corrections and Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) Federal School Code (FSC) Corrections - The resulting transaction contains Reject 1.

Applicants using FAFSA on the Web to make corrections are not affected by this issue.

We estimate roughly 2,600 applicants may have been impacted to date.

Important Note: We are also aware of an issue that one or more proprietary software systems may be experiencing with the blank field values for the asset questions, based on the new skip logic on 2011-2012 FAFSA on the Web. We are working with vendors to research this issue further.

Please note that the issue affecting software systems, while related to the issue at the CPS described in this announcement, is unique. Resolution for the software systems issue will be separate from the resolution being implemented for the CPS issue.

Background

In 2011-2012 FAFSA on the Web, we added new logic that allows some applicants to skip asset-related questions if the applicant’s eligibility is not affected by providing asset information (and their state grant agency does not require it). This logic is enabled by asking applicants a new asset threshold question:

  • Dependent Students – A dependent student who does not qualify for the Simplified Needs Test or Automatic Zero EFC is asked if, as of the day he or she is completing the FAFSA, his or her parents’ total amount of current assets (total balance of cash, savings, and checking accounts, net worth of investments, and net worth of current businesses and/or investment farms) exceeds their asset protection allowance (the actual amount of the parents’ asset protection allowance is calculated based on the parents’ marital status and age, and is presented as part of the question). If the student answers "Yes," that his or her parents’ assets exceed their asset protection allowance, FAFSA questions 88-90 are displayed. If the student answers "No," FAFSA questions 88-90 are not displayed.

  • Independent Students – An independent student who does not qualify for the Simplified Needs Test or Automatic Zero EFC is asked if, as of the day he or she is completing the FAFSA, his or her total amount of current assets (total balance of cash, savings, and checking accounts, net worth of investments, and net worth of current businesses and/or investment farms) exceeds his or her asset protection allowance (the actual amount of the student’s asset protection allowance is calculated based on the student’s marital status and age, and is presented as part of the question). If the student answers "Yes," that his or her assets exceed the asset protection allowance, FAFSA questions 40-42 are displayed. If the student answers "No," FAFSA questions 40-42 are not displayed.

When a dependent or independent applicant submits the FAFSA with blank responses to questions 88-90 or 40-42, respectively, as a result of answering "No" to the asset threshold question, the CPS accepts the omission of the asset data and suppresses Reject 1, which would otherwise be applied to the 01 transaction.

Next Steps

We are currently reviewing reprocessing options to correct this issue on affected transactions for affected applicants. Please monitor the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site for additional communications regarding this issue in the near future.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this message, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806), or by e-mail at CPSSAIG@ed.gov.

   

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